What I Love About the Delaware Beaches

Local Experts Share What They Love about the Delaware Beaches

By Arielle Patterson

There are so many reasons to love the Delaware Beaches. From the charming cities and towns situated along the ocean and bays, to the tax-free shopping and array of activities and attractions, coastal Delaware has so much to offer both first-time and long-time vacationers. I asked local experts what they love about the Delaware Beaches. Here’s what they had to say.

 

 

 

 

 

From left to right: Scott Thomas, Executive Director of Southern Delaware Tourism; Carol Everhart, President/CEO of the Rehoboth-Dewey Chamber of Commerce; Betsy Reamer, Executive Director of the Lewes Chamber of Commerce; and Paul Kuhns, Mayor of the City of Rehoboth.

What do you love most about the Delaware Beaches?

Scott Thomas: “The friendly vibe, beautiful scenery and small towns. It’s a breath of fresh air when you get here. We’re a collection of small towns, so it’s like you have a continuing charm as you go through the area. Each town has a different personality, but they all have the same charm.”

Carol Everhart: “The variety. You can go from the Quiet Resorts to downtown Rehoboth where you have a boardwalk and open-land beaches. Everything is within 10 miles—the ocean, the bay, fishing and hiking. Just in downtown Rehoboth alone you have over 100 eateries, retail shopping and outlet shopping—all tax free.”

Betsy Reamer: “I moved down here 25 years ago, and I had always lived in metropolitan areas where I had to travel long distances to get to beaches for my vacations. When I moved down here, I got so close to the beaches that I felt like I was on a permanent vacation here. The state has done such a fabulous job of preserving the beaches. So many of them are undeveloped and natural, as you’re driving down the coast from Lewes to Fenwick Island. The beauty is amazing to me. The municipalities have done a good job of keeping the development to a minimum and limiting the sizes of properties, so the sightlines aren’t obstructed.”

Paul Kuhns: “I enjoy walking along the coastline and the abundance of open space we have in coastal Delaware.”

How would you describe life in the Delaware Beaches?

Scott Thomas: “A bad day here is better than a good day most anywhere else. Life is more enriching from what you’re surrounded by. Whether that’s the water or taking a run, you’re reminded that we’re in a mid-Atlantic paradise.”

Carol Everhart: “This is a resort beach community. It’s leisurely and recreational which makes life light and fun. There are also cultural opportunities, with theaters and the arts.”

Betsy Reamer: “I’ve lived in large metropolitan areas. Right away you realize it’s much more laid back down here. Lewes has been a more year-round town. A lot of our businesses stay open throughout the year.”

Paul Kuhns: “I would describe beach life here as slow and easy.”

What is your favorite thing to do with your family?

Scott Thomas: “Riding bikes on the trails that connect our towns. You can start in Dewey or Rehoboth and go through Gordon’s Pond and Cape Henlopen State Park, then take the Gordon’s Pond Trail to historic Lewes. You can take as many breaks as you want and enjoy the scenery. You can really make a whole day of it.”

Carol Everhart: “This is an amazing area for seniors. My husband and I enjoy any place we can be near the water. We love the water-side dining and outdoor concerts. We also love the nearby vineyard and farmers markets.”

Betsy Reamer: “With my husband, we love to go to all of the cultural events in Lewes. When my grandson visits, we take him to the beach where he can boogie board. He also loves the Seaside Nature Center at Cape Henlopen State Park.”

Paul Kuhns: “My family enjoys a backyard barbecue. When my nieces and nephews are in town, we head to Funland. This classic boardwalk amusement park is the perfect family-friendly summer fun place.”

What is your favorite “hidden gem” in the Delaware Beaches?

Scott Thomas: “Paddling along the Broadkill River in a kayak is one of my favorites. As you travel inland, you can take your pick of hidden gems. There are some special spots that have been around for a long time such as taking the Woodland Ferry across the Nanticoke River that connects the towns of Bethel and Woodland. Newer hidden gems are popping up as well like the Delaware Botanic Gardens just outside of Dagsboro.”

Carol Everhart: “I love Gordon’s Pond. There’s a wonderful hiking and biking trail to get there. The view, walking down Gordon’s Pond, over the water, is breathtaking. It is nature at its best.”

Betsy Reamer: “I think one thing a lot of people don’t realize when they come here is the variety of cultural activities that take place. The quality of them is every bit as good as a larger metropolitan area. For example, Coastal Concerts has performers that have performed at the Kennedy Center. There are theaters, the Rehoboth Art League, galleries—there’s just so much to do here. Until people live here, they don’t realize there’s a whole cultural landscape here.”

Paul Kuhns: “Cape Henlopen State Park. Rehoboth’s hidden gem is a beautiful state park located at the point where the Delaware River meets the Atlantic. This nature preserve offers something for everyone, from its beaches, trails for biking and hiking, a fishing pier and historic remnants dating back to an earlier time in American history.”

What’s your favorite beach or outdoor attraction to go to and why?

Scott Thomas: “Dewey Beach is close to my heart because I grew up there, spent every summer there and made so many special memories there, and continue to make them.”

Carol Everhart: “I love the concerts at the [Bethany Beach] bandstand. They’re free and have excellent performances there. I also love the free movies and bonfires at Dewey Beach.”

Betsy Reamer: “Cape Henlopen State Park and Lewes beach. I love Lewes beach because I can take my grandson down there. It’s kind of a wave-less beach, which is perfect for him. Cape Henlopen State Park is such an amazing attraction—it’s 5,000 acres of beautifully kept natural landscaping.”

Paul Kuhns: “My favorite place to spend time outside is in Rehoboth Beach. I enjoy walking around town and along our beach and boardwalk.”

Historic Lewes

The First Town in the First State

Step onto the streets of Historic Lewes and it won’t take long for you to sense the town’s maritime heritage and the roots that run deep into history.

Lewes History

Nearly 400 years old, Lewes continues to preserve its seafaring charm to honor its heritage as the first town in the first state. As with many colonial seaports, Lewes was also at the mercy of pirates for much of its history. During the late 1600s, pirates relentlessly raided the town, which caused a law to be passed requiring that Lewes’ citizens own a musket and ammunition for protection against the raiders. While today’s citizens will not be bearing muskets, Lewes’ enchanting history is waiting to be discovered around every corner. 

Things To Do in Lewes

Alive with people year-round, visitors often enjoy the gorgeous architecture, beautifully preserved homes, museums, scenic streets and downtown area, which is ideal for pedestrians. While most of these preserved homes date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, one from the 17th century is the oldest standing building in the state. You’ll find the alluring historic district filled to the brim with more than 40 unique shops, fine restaurants, inns, B&Bs and more. 

Water Activities in Lewes

Nearby, bay and ocean beaches offer limitless recreational activities amidst beautiful unspoiled nature. Anglers will enjoy an afternoon casting at the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, while the bay and ocean areas allow for plenty of swimming. There are thousands of acres of preserved lands in Cape Henlopen State Park. The park provides lifeguard patrols between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, so you and your children can enjoy the beach safely.

Cape May-Lewes Ferry

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the Delaware Bay is aboard the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Enjoy an 80-minute cruise as a passenger, or travel with your car. You can even explore another great coastal town at the other end of the journey—Cape May, New Jersey. 

Whether you spend the day learning about Lewes’ history, enjoying the beach and beautiful maritime nature, finding unique treasures to bring home or all three, you’re bound to come to one realization—one day in Lewes simply isn’t enough.

Outdoor Adventure in the Delaware Beaches

Image from Delaware Seashore State Park

Explore the Delaware Beaches’ Great Outdoors

A vacation to the Delaware Beaches is, of course, the perfect setting for lounging in the sand and splashing in the waves. Aside from the beach, Bethany Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Fenwick Island and Lewes offer several other experiences for outdoor exploration. These are a great way to connect with family, friends and the area’s natural environment.

Outdoor Adventure in the Delaware Beaches

Here are some ways to have an outdoor adventure in Bethany Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, Fenwick Island and Lewes.

Take a Guided Tour

There’s no better way to experience coastal Delaware’s more natural settings than on a guided tour. These knowledgeable guides can take you to new locales where you can learn more about the history and ecosystem of the area while spotting local wildlife. By foot or by boat, you’ll certainly enjoy getting to see a different side of the Delaware Beaches.

Coastal Kayak offers kayak and paddleboard tours through some of the Delaware coastline’s waterways. Book one of the eco tours to get a closer look at area wildlife and the natural environment.

Click here for a Coastal Kayak coupon.

Explore Delaware Seashore State Park

Located on Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Seashore State Park offers six miles of shoreline perfect for swimming, fishing, crabbing, kayaking, wind surfing, eco tours and more. The Delaware Seashore trail system features several miles of trails just waiting to be explored. There are also two campgrounds, on each side of the Indian River Inlet, for some outdoor adventure after dark.

Hit the Waves with Area Watersports

The Delaware coastline is the perfect destination for thrilling watersports. Whether you choose surfing, jet skiing, paddling, parasailing or one of the other exciting watersports, you’re sure to enjoy your time on the water. The towns within the Delaware Beaches have several sport outfitters in the area that can teach you how to use the equipment before you head out on your own.

Island Watersports has one of the largest selections of rental boats on the Eastern Shore. Find everything you need for a day on the water, including pontoon boats, jet boats, and jet ski rentals. They also offer paddleboards, wake boards, surf boards and more.

Take flight with Dewey Beach Parasail. Reach great heights and get a bird’s-eye view of Dewey Beach and Indian River on one of their parasailing adventures.

Click here for a Dewey Beach Parasail coupon.

Play a Round of Golf

For more relaxing fun outdoors, play a round of golf on one of the courses near the Delaware Beaches. Lower your handicap on these beautifully designed courses with views that you’ll only find in coastal Delaware.

Bayside Resort Golf Club’s courses boast wide-open fairways, pine trees and marshlands. Bear Trap Dunes offers golfers a coastal escape across 27 holes, perfect for beginners and experts.

The kids will love the thrilling sights and obstacles at the local mini golf courses. Go on a pirate adventure and search for lost treasure at Captain Jack’s Pirate Golf. Or, play 19 holes in mythical Scandinavia with Vikings and a two-headed dragon at Viking Golf & Go-Karts.

Top 5 July Events in the Delaware Beaches

Image from Brook Hedge/Lewes Chamber

Mark Your Calendar for these July Events in the Delaware Beaches

The month of July is full of fun and exciting events in the Delaware Beaches, from Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach to Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island. Whether you’re searching for family-friendly events, food and drink events, live music or free festivals, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Here are our top five events happening in the Delaware Beaches during July.

Top 5 July Events in the Delaware Beaches

July 4: Lewes Old Fashioned 4th of July

While you can celebrate the Fourth of July in many locations within the Delaware Beaches, the Old Fashioned 4th of July in Lewes is not to be missed. This patriotic, family-friendly event features children’s games, a boat parade, live music and fireworks. The highlight of the Independence Day celebration is the Doo-Dah Parade, which allows any and everyone to jump right in and join.

Click here to read more about the Lewes Old Fashioned 4th of July.

Click here to read more about July 4 events in the Delaware Beaches.

July 9–10: 70th Annual Cottage Tour of Art

The Rehoboth Art League hosts the 70th Annual Cottage Tour of Art, showcasing a distinct selection of homes in the Rehoboth Beach area. Experience this two-day self-guided tour and the various landscapes, interiors and architectural designs of these homes.

July 13: 39th Annual Sandcastle Contest

Delaware Seashore State Park invites everyone to watch and participate in the 39th Annual Sandcastle Contest. No experience is required, and the competition is free to enter. Sandcastles will be judged on originality/creativity, structural complexity, aesthetic appeal and the use of natural material.

July 13: Lewes Summer Craft Fair

Head to Lewes for the Summer Craft Fair, presented by the Lewes Historical Society. Learn why Lewes is such an exciting destination for craft buyers. The Lewes Summer Craft Fair will feature well-known craftspeople from across the region and Eastern Shore. Proceeds benefit educational and preservation programs at The Lewes Historical Society.

July 14: Indian River Marina Seafood and Arts Festival

Enjoy seafood, art and live music at the Indian River Marina Seafood and Arts Festival. This annual event will feature children’s activities and entertainment, fresh seafood, art vendors and live music. Experience all this festival has to offer against the backdrop of the beautiful Indian River Marina.

Lewes

Experience Old Coastal Charm in Lewes

Situated where the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, the seafaring town of Lewes holds its reputation as not only the first town of the nation’s first state but a first-rate place to take in the best of what southern Delaware has to offer. From maritime heritage to fresh, local seafood, and one-of-a-kind sea sights, Lewes provides a breathtaking memorable vacation experience while staying true to its quaint village charm.

Historical Attractions in Lewes

A trip to Lewes wouldn’t be complete without discovering the town’s 400 years of storied history. Visit the Lewes Historical Society grounds and experience one of their historical tours—on foot or via the water—to discover downtown attractions including lighthouses, monuments, cemeteries and more. While in town, visit the Zwaandendael Museum for a unique look at Lewes through the lens of Delaware’s first European settlers, and the role the town played in the War of 1812. Experience the vast history of southern Delaware through artifacts as well as exhibits featuring shipwrecks and lighthouses. Then head out of town to Cape Henlopen State Park for hiking, picnicking and more history from WWII at Fort Miles. 

Traveling to and from Lewes

From the dunes in the State Park, if you time it right, you’ll see the Cape May-Lewes Ferry sailing to and from Cape May, N.J., as part of daily crossings connecting south New Jersey to southern Delaware.  Passengers pass the ferry terminal on the way into Lewes and should stop in for a closer view of both the ferries docking and, for special times of the summer, Delaware’s tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel. 

Dining in Lewes

Lewes is home to a wide array of top coastal dining restaurants serving straight-from-the-bay bounty. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, dine alfresco at Lewes’ only dockside restaurant. Learn how to crack fresh blue crabs like a local or bring them back to your home or rental for a backyard crab feast. Elegant, sit-down dining awaits in the heart of Historic Lewes.

Shopping in Lewes

All of Delaware is tax-free, including the local boutique shops in downtown Lewes where you’ll find one-of-a-kind items and charming gifts with a coastal flair. There are also more than 500 antique dealers in the southern Delaware region, where you can find unique treasures and take home some history to remind you of your great trip.

Whether you’re visiting for a relaxing family getaway or an adventurous escape, Lewes warmly welcomes any type of traveler. Start planning your itinerary now or explore as you go. Either way, Lewes is sure to satisfy whatever vacation bliss you are seeking.


 

Get a Taste of Delaware

From upscale eateries to dockside cafes, dining in southern Delaware is truly a culinary adventure. The art of food has been and continues to be an important tradition here, and it’s apparent that area chefs take pride in their delicious creations using straight-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables and freshly-caught seafood right from Delaware’s shores.

From Rehoboth Beach to Fenwick Island, you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants, including chef-owned and -operated bistros inventing uniquely appetizing menus to family-owned eateries preparing locally-sourced favorites.

Harvested Bites

Fresh veggies from the many farms on the Delmarva Peninsula are paired with fresh catches, enticing meats and other delectable entrees to make a locally-sourced meal you’re sure to love. Delaware has two-and-a-half counties on the Peninsula—Kent and Sussex—making up nearly 80 percent of the state’s land, and fresh veggies can be found here year-round.

Springtime brings favorites such as asparagus, parsnips and different types of leafy, green lettuces. The abundance of summer’s bounty provides juicy tomatoes, red raspberries, sweet peaches and varieties of squash. Restaurant menus are still filled with local ingredients during the fall and winter including pumpkins, winter squash, turnips, leeks, Brussels sprouts and beets. Look for these items prepared any number of creative ways at some of the fabulous restaurants along the Delaware Beaches.

Many local restaurants focus on local flavors, such as the famous Chesapeake blue crabs available April through December. You’ll see these popular seafood staples prepared different ways from battered and fried to steamed and served with a piping hot bowl of melted butter. Sometimes chefs will use these sweet, succulent chunks of blue crab meat to form perfectly shaped crab cakes, often prepared with little filler and topped with spicy remoulade or sweet tartar sauce. 

Other seafood favorites found along the Delaware Beaches are the deliciously moist rockfish, tasty tautog and flaky and delicate flounder available at different times throughout the year. If you familiarize yourself with the types of seafood available in the region during certain times of the year, you’ll benefit by getting the freshest, tastiest seafood. You’ll also be giving back to the local harvesters in the area, which preserve this long-time fishing tradition.

High-End Meat Eats

Of course, there are plenty of options besides seafood at the many restaurants here. Meat is always in season, but there’s a lot more to it than your average beach burgers. Here in Delaware, chefs perform some of their wildest experimentations, and the results are always extraordinary. Menus boast offerings such as slow-roasted pork belly with braised fennel, bacon-wrapped quail stuffed with goat cheese, roasted prime rib and grass-fed burgers topped with foie gras.

If you’re in the mood for a succulent steak, you’ll notice that many eateries here take pride in this one menu item. Chefs often highlight their juicy steaks and take great care in preparing a tender and flavorful steak cooked just to your liking.

Cosmopolitan Dining in the Delaware Beaches

Restaurants in the Delaware Beaches have been attracting loads of media attention, as area restaurants have expanded beyond the typical beach resort establishments to creative and gourmet eateries. You’ll still find the classic mom-and-pop diners, as well as beach food favorites, seafood dishes and a unique atmosphere.

Added to the mix are cosmopolitan eateries with fusion cuisine, international restaurants and chef-owned eateries with changing menus using the best of local flavors. The farm-to-table, or in some cases the tide-to-table movement, is taking over the mindset of many area chefs as the need for building community, not to mention, obtaining great tasting food.

Dining Al Fresco

Start your morning off on the patio of a locally-owned breakfast and coffee shop and end it with a delicious meal and cold beverage at one of the several waterfront restaurants in the area. Delaware Beaches are a host to casual dining, family-friendly eateries—all with plenty of outdoor seating.

What makes the fresh and local food in Delaware Beaches all the more enjoyable is where you enjoy your meal. There are dozens of outdoor places to dine throughout the area, whether you are vacationing in Rehoboth Beach, Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, Dewey Beach or Lewes.

After dinner, the town continues to sizzle with nightly concerts by the beach and popular downtown hotspots. Many also head to nearby Dewey Beach for a night out on the town. Dewey, a more casual and smaller version of Rehoboth, features many popular restaurants and bars that attract crowds into the wee hours.

Family-Friendly Restaurants

Of course, you will find a plethora of seafood restaurants that are traditional or in a buffet-style where you can indulge in your favorite seafood dish. There are a variety of non-seafood restaurants in the area as well. From delis and pizzerias to authentic Mexican and barbeque, you won’t have trouble finding a place to eat that the whole family will agree upon.

If you’d rather eat at home or are having dinner on the beach one night, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes offering carry out so you can avoid the wait and pick up your meals to-go. Or head over to Bethany Beach to visit the local butcher’s shop where you can order hand-cut steaks and other high-quality meats for a fun cookout with family and friends.

No matter what you choose to take on the go, you are sure to love the variety of delicious dining options while in Delaware Beaches.

Don’t Forget Dessert

Finish off your meal with a tasty dessert at one of the local bakeries, ice cream or frozen yogurt shops where you will find plenty of treats made with fresh and local products satisfy your sweet tooth.

Whether you’re craving fresh-from-the-shores seafood, a piping hot pizza or a little sweet treat, you’re sure to find all this and more inside the superior restaurants in Delaware Beaches. So, indulge a little and enjoy a meal that you’ll remember forever.